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Game Warden Field Notes

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s law enforcement compiled the following items from recent reports.

Fresh Caught

Another example of black market online shopping occurred on June 2 when a game warden found a post on the trading app OfferUp advertising “fresh caught” fish for sale in the Houston area. The picture on the ad was taken at night and showed a man holding two bull red-drum. The warden contacted the seller and found out he had three redfish for sale and was asking $10 per pound. The seller claimed the fish weighed 80 pounds total and that he had caught them on two separate trips during the week. Wardens made contact with the seller and the seller’s father, who had come along to help close the deal, in a pharmacy store parking lot. In the trunk of their car, wardens found the three redfish, which measured 36, 42, and 45 inches in length, respectively. The father admitted to catching one of the fish, and the son claimed the other two. Neither of them had a current fishing license nor any commercial license. Charges and restitution are pending.

Bill Comes Due for Ranch Mis-manager

South Texas game wardens recently wrapped up a six-month multistate investigation of an illegal commercial hunting operation on a ranch in Live Oak County. A landowner contacted the wardens regarding his ranch manager selling hunts under the table and hunting without consent. The landowner learned of the illegal activities when approached by a taxidermist regarding an unpaid balance for several mounts belonging to the ranch manager. The landowner did not give the ranch manager or his family permission to harvest any animals on the ranch. During an extensive investigation, wardens determined the ranch manager had been selling trophy hunts to out of state clients, pocketing their money, and falsifying the ranch harvest records. The ranch manager was responsible for brokering illegal hunts for 14 white-tailed deer, with scores ranging from 245 B&C to under 100 B&C, and numerous exotic game animals. The ranch manager and his daughter also unlawfully appropriated $17,450 from the ranch owner. Hunters paid for their hunts by check made out to the ranch manager or daughter instead of to the ranch. The wardens obtained arrest warrants for the ranch manager for hunting without consent for white-tailed deer and exotic animals. Wardens arrest him without incident.

Just Leave that Fawn Alone

On June 5, a Bell County game warden was alerted to a person who had stopped at a gas station with a fawn in her vehicle. The complainant sent pictures and a license plate number, which showed the pickup registered to a woman in Rogers. The warden also learned the woman had an arrest warrant for assault with bodily injury. The warden contacted the suspect, who admitted to driving the deer around in her car; however, she couldn’t find it now on her ten-acre property. Wardens place the woman under arrest for the warrant and illegal possession of the white-tailed deer.

How to do Hunting Wrong

After receiving many reports related to birds that had been found shot dead in northeast Edinburg, game wardens set up surveillance in the general vicinity. While investigating signs of trespassing into municipal properties, the officers heard pellet gunshots on the other side of a steep drainage ditch. While one of the officers engaged the individual from a distance, the other game warden crossed the drainage ditch to meet with the subject. The man immediately explained that he had been hunting “all kinds of birds,” as well as rabbits, but was unaware a hunting license was necessary. He subsequently admitted to shooting protected birds, including a stork on the water body adjacent to the Edinburg World Birding Center. The officers addressed various violations, including hunting without a license, no hunter’s education, and hunting protected birds.

Life Jacket Buys Time for Rescue

On June 9 while on patrol, Cameron County game wardens responded to a distress call in the bay near South Padre Island. The victim was found shortly after arriving at his last known location, and wardens brought him aboard their vessel. He stated he had been paddling into a strong wind. His kayak became swamped and, before he realized what was happening, it capsized. The kayaker also mentioned had he not been wearing his life jacket he would not have been able to tread water for the 15-20 minutes it took for his friends to realize he was in trouble and for help to arrive.

Road-Killed, not Road Kill

A Travis County man was arrested recently on a warrant charging him with hunting from a vehicle for an incident back in January in Blanco County. A Blanco County warden had received a call regarding a shot fired from a roadway and with assistance from local law enforcement caught up to the suspect. The warden discovered a dead white-tailed deer in a trash bag in the bed of the subject’s truck and observed a small bullet wound to the deer’s head. The suspect stated he had picked up the deer from the roadway after a car hit it. The warden saw no evidence that a vehicle had struck the animal. The driver was cited for possession of white-tailed deer in closed season and released. The warden then spent the next three hours on foot searching the area where he believed the man had shot the deer and found a single shot .22 rifle laying in the ditch. The warden issued an arrest warrant for a Travis County resident for hunting from a vehicle. The charges are pending.

Scare Tactic Turns Fatal

A Bell County man’s efforts to keep deer from eating his backyard greenery led to criminal charges filed against him for causing severe injury to a whitetail with a shot from a pellet gun. The BB severed the deer’s spinal cord, and a warden had to put the animal down. On May 23, a game warden was alerted by one of his neighbors of a deer in distress. The man claimed he was in his backyard target shooting with a pellet gun when a deer walked by, and for no apparent reason dropped to the ground. The deer was still alive and would not get up. The man later claimed he was shooting at the field to scare the deer off. The man stated he usually uses firecrackers to scare deer away from his plants, but didn’t have any fireworks, so he used the pellet gun. Upon examination of the wounded animal, the warden observed a small entrance wound near the deer’s spine. Further evidence showed the deer shot with a pellet gun, which severed the spinal cord, paralyzing the rear legs of the deer and causing it to drop. The warden filed charges and the case is pending.

No Fishing License, Big Problem

In early June, a Harris County game warden was patrolling for saltwater fishing violations by land when he observed a man fishing off a ferry launch with clearly posted signs of no fishing. Upon asking for his fishing license, the subject handed over his wife’s and admitted he didn’t have one. Upon running an ID check, the warden learned that the unlicensed angler had a felony warrant out of Brazoria County. The warden transported the subject to Brazoria County, and charges are pending for fishing under another person’s license.